Writer to Writer is coming soon!

Dear Juana Medina,

I have to thank you because I enjoyed reading your book, Juana and Lucas very much.  When I started to read the book, I loved the way you spell the name Juana who-ah-nah.  The way that you describe Bogota makes me feel like I have been there before.  Like Juana, I enjoy reading in the night.  She had Lucas with her and I enjoyed reading along.

Friendship for Juana is very important.  Juli and her talk a lot and always get a lot of fun together which reminds me about my friend Evelyn and me.  We are very close.  Juana’s life was like my life because like Juana, I moved from Puerta Vallarta to Rosarito where I met very good friends.  Juana has trouble learning English and I have the same problem, too.  In the book, her mother is the most important person in her life.  Her mother is always there for her.  Like my mother is there for me.  She has also her tia Cris. She is her favorite aunt of all aunts.  I hope like Juana, I want to have a favorite aunt.  I feel sad because I don’t have an aunt like that.

Her abue (grandfather) is an excellent abue.  He is funny and very smart.  That reminds me of good times with my grandparents.  My Abuelo was a carpenter.  He always made me wood toys.

For Juana, Spaceland was her motivation to get better grades.  For me, I want to be able to speak and read better English.  Learning another language is hard, but every day I try my best to get better English.  Your book helped me to try my best to learn English.

Thank you Juana Medina for your wonderful book.



Writer to Writer

Writer to Writer is a unique writing challenge through the Southern California Library Literacy Network (SCLLN). Writer to Writer invites adult literacy learners to write a letter to an author whose writing has changed the way they think about life. A group of learners from Literacy Volunteers-HBPL participated in the challenge this year. We hope you enjoy some of their letters!

Dear Mr. Gary Chapman,

I read your book The Five Love Languages of Teenagers and I want to say that this is a wonderful book.  This book is having a good impact on me.  It’s taught me many things, like how parents focus more on the errors of their teenagers and the parents forget to give affirmation words.  Parents are hurting who they most love.  Parents and teenagers both battle with each other and both end up hurt.  Another thing that as parents we forget to do is the right thing when the teenager makes mistakes.  Love your teenager when they fail.  This book helped me understand my teenager.  My relationship with my daughter now is better.  I’m trying to be a better mother following the advice from this book. 

The next book that I’m reading is The five Love Languages of Children.  Then I hope I can read The Five Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts.  I think both books are great.  Overall, thank you for writing this kind of book Mr. Gary Chapman.  I learned a lot.  This book was very helpful.  My daughter and I became friends but sometimes I have to remind her I’m her mother.


J. A.

My Recent Trip to the Beach

“Last weekend, I spent an hour and a half to walk with my husband on the beach at Huntington Beach City. The weather was cool down a little bit after many hot days. A lot of people went to the beach, too. They came there to surf, bike, camp, walk, or just to get some fresh air. I was very impressed by a group of little boys and girls who were practicing martial art with their teacher near the ocean.”

By the way, I want to thank you and Literacy Program a lot by giving me and someone like me a wonderful opportunity to study English with a native American speaker tutor. This chance will help me a lot for understanding American culture as well as improving all my English skills.

Thank you very much and have a beautiful day.


The Weather

This year we have had a lot of cold weather. There has been a lot of frost, and there is snow on the mountains. The roads to Big Bear are closed and so is the Grapevine. Chan hasn’t felt so much freezing since she came to the United States until this year. Patricia can’t go to the beach because it is so cold and windy. We are tired of the rain, but California needs it. Maybe this summer will be very hot. The changing weather is causing a lot of problems.

Submitted by Won, Chan, Wendy, Patricia, Kim, and Lynne, small group conversation class, March 5, 2019.

Everything changed

On November 1, 2018, learners and tutors volunteered to speak about their experience with the literacy program in support of one of our grant applications.  This is Maribet’s speech from that night.  Enjoy!

“Hello Everyone, 

Welcome to our Oak View Branch Library. I hope you enjoy this wonderful day and continue to enjoy.

It’s an honor to stand here in front of you and at the same time, a challenge for me to say these words in English.  My name is Maribet.  I am married and God blessed me with a son.  He is seven years old and my son is the reason I decided to come to the library and learn English.

Why my son is the reason?  I said to myself my son is growing up.  He is going to speak English and I want to understand what he says.  When my son started kindergarten, the homework they gave him should have been simple for an adult to be able to help him but I could not help him.  Not because I didn’t want to help him, but I didn’t understand what he needed to do.  And my son realized that I didn’t know English.  He asked me “Mami, why do you not understand English, didn’t you go to school?”

I felt very sad but it was my reality at that time.  For me, it was difficult for everything.  At work, for my son appointments with his doctor, when I go out to eat… how to order the food?

I was afraid when people heard me speak English, maybe they laugh at me.

I still do not speak English well but now everything changed thanks to the programs that we have in our library.  I am happy to learn English.  I feel comfortable when I go to see doctor with my son, when I go to the grocery store.  I can read with my son.

I want to say thank you to all the people who donate their time.  People like you make a difference all over the world.

Thank you for sharing with us what you have.”

Maribet T.

Class of 2018!

Hello!  My name is Raquel Guzman.

I’m from Mexico D.F.  I’m married and have one son named Ricardo.  I am happy because in a few months, Ricardo graduates from the University of California, Irvine (UCI).

I am the third of seven sisters and brothers.  My parents are no longer living.  When my father died in 1986, I was 16 years old.  I stopped going to school so I could work and help my mother and brothers.

One of my early jobs was as a seasonal employee for Edible Arrangements.  My job was preparing fruits, decorating and assembling arrangements.

I arrived at the Huntington Beach Central Library in search of conversation classes and then they introduced me to my tutor, Susan, for English and conversation classes.  I needed to communicate in English with people at work, and with my doctors, because I’m a breast cancer survivor.  I was sick for two years.  Breast cancer treatment required 33 chemotherapy and 33 radiation sessions.  I go to an annual check up, but I am now cancer free!

I worked for a few years as a computer instructor teaching basic computer skills to adults at Oak View Library in Huntington Beach.  I also taught basic computer skills where I needed to communicate in English and Spanish to Spanish speaking adults at Ocean View’s Parent Academy in Huntington Beach.

My goals when I first joined the Literacy Volunteers program was to be able to find a better job and buy own Starbucks coffee. I am in English classes and have conversations with my tutor.  We meet at Jack In the Box at 7:30 a.m. on Sundays.  We study by reading magazines and I do workbooks at home.

I enjoy volunteering for the American Cancer Society’s “Look Good, Feel Better Program.”  My duties include teaching cancer patients how to apply makeup, cover their heads with scarves, and look better to improve their self-esteem.

Two years ago, my tutor asked me if I wanted to finish high school.  I had to think twice because I’m very bad at math.  My tutor told me, “You CAN do it!  If you need help or teachers to support you in your subjects, we got it for you.”  I answered, “Okay, you think I can do it?  Then let’s try it and we’ll ACHIEVE it!”…AND I GRADUATED!

graduation 2018On March 16, 2018, I completed all the requirements needed to earn a high school diploma from Smart Horizons – Career Online Education.  I also earned a “General Career Preparation Certificate” as part of the program.  On June 1, 2018, I participated in the first Career Online High School (COHS) graduation ceremony held at Central Library in Huntington Beach.  Many relatives came to the ceremony.  I am the second person out of 7 in my family to earn a high school diploma!

In September, I started working part time for an events staffing company called Britmo.  Recently, they had me work in the VIP tent, by myself, at the Huntington Beach Airshow.  I had to talk to the sponsors and guests in my tent for over 7 hours while enjoying a front row view of the airshow!  I LOVED THIS!

I can now say I am working in a company packing small boxes, I also have my own small business called “Raquel’s Balloon Arches and Decorations,”  I am a business owner and operator, licensed in Huntington Beach, California.  I am a High School Graduate and I am BILINGUAL!


So thankful!

I am so thankful for this program because it helped me a lot with my Citizenship test.  I passed it with a score of 100% and now I am really happy that I am a U.S. Citizen.  My teacher is very nice and patient.  My goal now is to get a diploma from high school and I am looking for a new job, too.

Thank you for the literacy program!




I am learning English to help my children with homework.

I am learning English to talk to teachers.

I am learning English to find a job.

I am learning English to know what my children are saying.


what are your goals?

My Baby Doll

When I was a child like a six or seven years old, I wished with all my heart for a doll with long hair but I thought that was impossible. I asked my mother if she could buy me one but she didn’t want to! I never lost hope and I was thinking how can I get it. My only opportunity to get my doll was that the Wise Men were approaching. Who are the Wise Men? They are like a Santa Claus. So I prayed and I asked them; “I want only one thing with all my heart a doll with long hair”.

The night when the Wise Men were coming was so long and I didn’t want to go to sleep because I was waiting for the Wise Men. Later I fell asleep but I woke up as early as possible. I ran to the Christmas tree to get and comb my doll’s  hair but they didn’t bring me a doll with long hair, they brought me a bald doll. I started to cry and complain about it. “Why did the wise men bring me this bald doll? I promise!! I will never love and believe in them!! I will never forget this big pain in my heart when I got the bald doll. I was very angry and sad and I threw it over the roof. When my mother found out what I did she hit and scolded me and she yelled at me, “Why did you throw it over the roof? Tell me!” With tears in my eyes and broken a heart …. I asked her a question too, “why did the Wise Men bring the doll with long hair to my sisters but not me! Why”? I was crying and I hugged her legs, “please tell me”!!! but she never responded my question. Now I don’t know why she didn’t answer my question because now I know my parents are the Wise Men. Today I don’t have the courage to ask her why she did because she is old and I love her with all my heart.

Many years later, when I got married, I told my husband about it and one day he wanted to surprise me and he gave me a doll with long hair.  He broke my heart and I started to cry again because he made me remember bad memories. Years later, I am the happiest woman in the world because my dream has come true. When I was twenty five years old God gave me a real beautiful baby doll. I will never forget the day that I met her for the first time, I touch her little hands, her little body, her beautiful lips she was so cute and all of her was perfect and fragile. I couldn’t believe that she was a girl because I never knew it during my pregnancy. I started to cry but this time the happiest cry. I talk to her about my story and she knows that she is my beautiful DOLL WITH LONG HAIR.

By Elizabeth Perez

able to help others

I came to the library to learn English so I can communicate with more people and be open to more opportunities.  Before I started coming to the library, I wasn’t confident in myself.  However, after coming to the library for a few years, I’m not only confident in myself when I speak English but I’m able to help others who don’t know any English at all!  I hope to one day speak English fluently.  I am very thankful for my tutor, Cathy, because she has helped me a lot.

Blanca M.

helping one person